Australia’s largest energy provider, AGL, has been hit with heavy penalties after one of its subsidiaries allegedly signed up customers to online contracts without their consent. An investigation by the Victorian Essential Services Commission has alleged a sales agent for Click Energy fraudulently processed transfer requests for 20 customers between September 1 and September 25, 2020, resulting in 32 penalty notices totalling $640,000 being issued to the AGL-owned electricity and gas retailer.
A subsidiary of AGL has been hit with fresh penalties for allegedly fraudulently signing up new customers. A subsidiary of AGL has been hit with fresh penalties for allegedly fraudulently signing up new customers.CREDIT:VIRGINIA STAR Commission chair Kate Symons said it was the second time Click Energy had attracted penalties for alleged fraudulent conduct by sales agents.
“Retailers are responsible for the actions of their sales agents and we will not hesitate to act to stamp out energy retailers gaining customers by allegedly fraudulent means,” Ms Symons said. ASX-listed AGL acquired Click Energy from Amaysim Australia for $115 million in 2020. The transaction was finalised on September 30 – just after the period in which the alleged misconduct occurred. An AGL spokeswoman said Click was made aware of an issue involving an external contractor allegedly referring customers “without explicit informed consent” in 2020. Click immediately reported the matter to the Essential Services Commission, and “undertook actions to stop the conduct” including terminating the use of its third-party sales contractor.
Following AGL’s acquisition of the retailer last September, “all of Click Energy’s processes, including its risk and compliance frameworks have been restructured to align with AGL,” the spokeswoman said. Click was issued the penalty notices last month, AGL said, and full payment has now been made. Ms Symons said “rogue sales contractors” operating on behalf of energy retailers undermined trust in the market. “Consumers must have confidence they will only be switched from one energy retailer to another after they are properly informed and have given their consent to the switch,” she said. The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.